The Mistake of Settling in a Relationship

July 14, 2010 Theresa Fung

I recently went to a friend’s 30th birthday. Christina was happy, making plans for the future, and freshly single after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. She could have been depressed at the thought of being alone on her birthday, but instead she seemed relieved that she finally found the courage to break up with him after feeling rather blah about him and their whole relationship for the past while.

Doug was a nice enough guy, but when it all boiled down, he just wasn’t right for her and she knew it. Christina wasn’t ready to give up hope in finding the real Mr. Right by settling for a Mr. Okay for now.

Big Relationship Mistake: Settling Instead of Finding Mr. Right

HeartInSand - The Unlocked Life

Settling is like buying an ill-fitting pair of shoes. You found something that meets a need and provides temporary satisfaction and happiness, but eventually the shoe starts rubbing you the wrong way, and you know that the fit isn’t right for you. But you feel like you ought to give this shoe a chance because you already invested in it. You might endure a few scratches and blisters before you decide to do something about it. Hopefully, this motivation happens before any major commitment is made!

Reasons People Settle:

  • One of the most common reasons is fear of being alone or that nobody better will come along. You need to remind yourself that you might be missing out on meeting the right person by being with your Mr./Miss Okay for Now.
  • The relationship is comfortable like an old shoe (or as comfortable as an ill-fitting old shoe can be). It’s human nature to resist change, no matter how healthy the change can be.
  • Financial dependence. Maybe one of the main reasons you are with this person is because you need someone else to split the bills with. This is a tricky situation but try to take steps to gain financial stability and look into getting another roommate.

Signs You are Settling for the Wrong Person:

Some people may already know they are settling. But others might need to examine their feelings more closely.

  • You are often unsatisfied, frustrated or unhappy.
  • You crave something more. For me, on paper, my ex appeared to be great: well-educated, faithful, reliable, a good friend. But, in reality, I often felt something was missing, some spark, some excitement, something. It took me too many years to mention to finally do the hard thing and break up with him. I took a leap of faith that the “real” Mr. Right was still out there and would provide that something I was seeking.

Nobody is perfect, but when you’ve met the right person you feel fulfilled, and accept their shortcomings. When you’re settling, those cracks you see in the relationship don’t go away and often worsen in time.

Why settle for a “maybe?”

APA Reference
Fung, T. (2010, July 14). The Mistake of Settling in a Relationship, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Theresa Fung

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August, 9 2014 at 9:38 pm

Live single die single that's heavenly

March, 13 2014 at 6:46 am

I'm a 20 years old girl who is confused in her relationship. I'm dating a 21 years old guy and we both study at the same university. My problem is that we not in the se level. His thinking of our future together while I'm still deciding weather I wanna keep our relationship or not. Plus there is a good friend of mine of an old time. His a guy and we happend To like each other and he knows me better than any guy and I think I'm starting 2 hav feelings four him. We had I fight with him and decided to end our relationship,but no butter how much he ignore me and act like he don't longer care about me I keep on forgiving him automatically. I tried to let him go but I can. What if my current boyfriend was the last guy u loves me like he do. I'm also. Afraid to loose him to.

November, 25 2013 at 12:06 pm

Rant complete.
There is a common denominator here....
Read re read other posts on this topic.
Interestingly,we are all round middle's very true.
To meet other people very difficult...
I don't feel so alone now,think it's just the winter,upcoming holidays.
Where do these MR so WRONGS come from!why do they seem to hit on us ?
Think because were just too good for them,they see it eventually come running
Back..I'm done's time to focus on ME,for ONCE,to achieve stability.
That will do it,not some man ...there's no easy fix..alot of hard work,but I know deep
Inside after all the screwy rollercoaster relationships w men in my's time for a well deserved break..there's two sides to me vulnerable young/ childlike woman &
The tough rock chick...honestly,I don't truly feel I've ever been in love,say like my parents were,or my siblings...that's sad at my age,it hurts..But so does Bipolar!!!:(

November, 25 2013 at 9:04 am

Was this written particularly for my high intellectual capacity,but horrendous
Old shoe syndrome?
Wow,I was with MR WRONG 5 years..told by family,Drs,my BFF of 34 yrs...
Stayed with an alcoholic,sex obsessed,and avoidance addict.
I'm rapid cycling bipolar! WHAT?????
Yes,reason,thought well,your pretty & smart but MENTALLY ill...
Take what you can get..he got,I left.
I'd leave,come back..??? because everyone in my family has a significant other.
This time,I realize we feed off each other's sickness.
Plus to be totally honest,it just wasn't worth the energy effort tears broken promises
SO I got real!
Though now single,don't ( oddly enough) feel much different!
Plus scarcely saw him ( workaholic)
We were just ALL wrong for each other.
Difference & passion.
Most importantly,during holidays,hospitalizations & my worst times..
He wasn't there,not even a text..or call me YOKO Solo.
He said I love u...only when I was FUN ( ugh) & MANIC..Adios....
I'm redirecting the energy elsewhere,trying to keep well MYSELF no 1
I'm nobody's babysitter at 52 yrs,I won't watch someone kill themselves.
I relate to that,too triggering,the whole relationship was I see triggering.
Shows it happens,I'm not so was odd,alone even when HE was there
He never accepted ME as can't continue living in a fantasy world.
It's like a a shaky brick house,it will eventually crumble & fall.
Don't wish to go into detail,but this guy was trouble in trying to get me into what I call my dark place,seeing no harm as he'd never been down in the hole.
I have,chosen,to try & stay in the is easier that way,bipolar is complex.
Why make a chaotic life more so? Even one fave singer of mine Stevie Nicks..
Beautiful,smart,talented...SINGLE..try have someone as an inspiration.
Now at 52,it's not easy to meet a why I want one.
Always thought it'd really be helpful,after reading Natasha's post,think otherwise.
Bipolar plus all my medical other issues,my cat,my BFF.enough said.
Excuse for the ranting,but better to get it out,maybe too it can help someone
In a similar situation.That would be nice..I'm so tired of hurting over this
Person..feel depressed anyway,so will close this on that note. :( or ..:-)

July, 13 2013 at 6:13 pm

I being with him for almlost 5 year. Nothing workout well. Im in love with him but maybe both of us cannot get along, we always quarell and I always feeling like im alone without anyone to talk. Im afraid to talk to him , because I know it will end up in big fight. I ont knpw what to do.

Muddy Rain
August, 19 2012 at 12:06 am

The notion of Mr. Right is a myth, to me. There s NO Mr. Right and there never will be. One person who ticks all those boxes...? One SINGLE person? Never. And needless striving for that is fantasy.
We all grew up with Walt Disney, that's the problem. We believe that we have a soul mate out there who will complete us, rescue us, so that we an live happily ever after.
If Mr. Okay loves us, treats us right, helps around the house, walks the dog, occasionally cooks the dinner, why not settle?
The opposite of settling is striving, and it seems to me these days that everyone is constantly striving for the next thing... When does it stop?
When can we finally say, hey, this might not be the biggest, or the best *whatever* but it's what I've got, and I'm happy with it. I'm content.
I'm not suggesting that we should settle in a relationship when it's clearly not working, or these is abuse, but settling into something that's working, something comfortable, like with Mr. Okay, might actually be a really good thing.
Just cause your partner is kinda boring, or a little lazy, for example, and your ego wants something that is more dynamic and exciting, is not a good enough reason to dump him/her and go after something better.
Especially when you risk swapping Mr. Okay for Mr. Narcissist (charming, exciting, good looking...)
Accepting your partner for who he/she is, gratitude, compromise, and not trying to mold them into your idealized fantasy is the key to a long loving relationship IMHO.

August, 21 2010 at 5:39 pm

Ive settled for lovers, partners and husbands who have gapping holes in their personalities, identities, egos, and desire to treat their woman with respect, adoration, and consideration above their mostly selfish and self serving natures. I am recently separated but still being stalked by my children's father who is super dependent on me but filled with contempt for me at the same time. Short of total submission and aquiecense from me our communications deteriorate quickly to distructive and passive agressive language and behavior. Quite recently I have gained some understanding into my part in this drama. My tolerance, hope, and love for him is actually super sick. I finally disingaging and keeping my boundaries and feeling good about it. I'm pretty sure that I will find a nice male companion again. I hope it is sooner than later but either way I am grateful that my consciousness will not allow me to settle for emotional and psychological manipulation by a disordered partner. I really thought that my love, forgiveness, and care could heal him or at least earn his respect and appreciation but that is not how it works for people like him and thank goodness I am me and I wont take it anymore.

August, 12 2010 at 6:40 am

As far as settling for okay, I've had mental illness most of our married life. It became severe about 10 years ago. I have had 25 hospitalizations and hear many stories of spouses that have left due to the stress. I have even told mine to leave me, that it wasn't fair to him. I know I have the best when he says, we said "for better or worse. I love you and I won't leave you."
Don't settle for anything less than the best. Why add that to your struggles?

August, 7 2010 at 1:56 pm

I liked Joyce note.
We are all human beings after all, with all our imperfections and bad days, that make us see everything BAD for prolonged period of times; how can we live with the BAD of others?
After being single for a long time I had some short bursts of
passion or infatuation where I convinced myself that I found 'Mr Right'.
I am just about to split- already done in my mind- from Mr Ok!
I somehow end up believing that I am made to be single. I find that ME times are the most precious and I am happy meeting friends only occasionally. Sometimes I ask myself 'I am not able to love seriously? All I can live are illusions and they never last very long' :( but it seriously looks like we, people are so different that the highest of a match for myself I could find is of 30%: how am I supposed to adapt to the 70% that doesn't keep me staying next to my Mr?

July, 20 2010 at 3:12 pm

Great God. I am the one who sounds like "Borderline Personality Disorder," while he is actually a highly funtioning person who had a 2 week episode of Bi-Polar 18 years ago. Be careful with labels. They can lead you into thinking you are "settling" when in fact you may not be seeing either the person you are partnering with, or yourself. We can all grow, we can all take another look at who we are, we can all disabuse ourselves, and de-enthrall ourselves, stepping out of the "I am the perfect person" routine into seeing our own need for forgiveness--lead us not into those temptations, but deliver us from the evil we put forward. Peace. Joyce

July, 20 2010 at 3:05 pm

Professional women like me over 60 are often embittered, complaining constantly about everything my husband of 40 years might do. Yellow flowers? Wrong color! Shopping? you got dumb stuff! Driving? You are the worst driver ever (it was I who had the serious accident)! I have been obsessed over my music teacher for the past 2 years and my husband was thru my pretense immediately, and still promoted my lessons at $82. an hour. I wanted to build an addition on our Vermont home and he was supportive; now it is a disaster and he says nothing. Yet to everyone I can grab and tell I say he is "mean," that he is "controlling," that he does nothing to support my growth and identity. He never even mentions that I now look like I am 9 months pregnant. He has Bi-Polar & I tell the 2 children & everyone "He is Sick." ???

July, 18 2010 at 4:51 am

Many women over 50 settle b/c there just isn't a lot out there. I know this. As women age the number of women looking for partners increases while the number of men available decreases continuously. It only gets worse. It's a sad state of affairs and I don't know the answer. Like I said, many women in my age group (over 50) just settle. I've settled for a jerk of a guy who has a long-distance, long-term relationship with another woman while he sleeps with his "local" squeeze, me. But he has more going for him than the other men I've met (and there aren't a lot of them), so I just put up.

Theresa Fung
July, 17 2010 at 8:25 pm

Clare - Many would envy you for being able to recognize that you've settled for "okay". Sounds like you're making room in your life for better things which is a really good start. Be in the right frame of mind and things will surely come along.

July, 17 2010 at 4:02 am

At this very minute, I'm feeling desperate and extremely fed up and have NOBODY to listen to me. I'm at the end of the rope with all of my problems and depression.
For the last 7 years, I've been putting up with what you mentioned on the - settling for okay. That's my life. I'm 31 and every part of my sorry life has fallen away. I have nobody to reach out to and I don't believe anyone can help me.
My doctor just said "what am I supposed to do with you and this guy?" He really thinks I'm nothing and treats me in that way. Thank you for listening.

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